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New ways to prevent drug overdoses in children


The 1970 introduction of child-resistant packages on toxic household products was a huge safety advance - child deaths from accidental poisoning are now rare.

But, as a new commentary (.pdf) in Pediatrics reports, accidental medication overdoses among young children have risen in recent years, with the highest rates among one- and two-year-olds. The article gives recommendations from a CDC-led task force dedicated to preventing these non-fatal overdoses.

The task force is proposing a three-pronged attack on the problem:

  1. Make child-resistant packages safer for kids. Surprisingly, though such packages have been modified to make them easier for the elderly to use, the packages have never been changed to improve kids' safety. The task force suggests introducing passive flow-resistor devices on pediatric liquid meds and "unit-dose" packages that replace large bottles of pills.
  2. Educate parents. The task force is starting an "Up and Away" campaign to remind parents to put medications in a secure spot immediately after use so little ones can't get into them.
  3. Improve labels and dosing devices on kids' medicines. As I've written before, the plastic dosing doo-dads that come with children's medications are often very confusing. Though most medication overdoses occur when a small child gets into a medication bottle unsupervised, it's still important to head off the possibility of well-meaning parents accidentally giving their kids too much of a medication.

Photo credit: justplainhope

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